Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fifth Annual War on Christmas

Sometimes it seems like Americans walk around deliberately looking for stupid things to be offended by. In the months of November and December, however, this strange compulsion gets amped up to 11 in the now annual cultural battles of what conservative commentators gleefully refer to as the War on Christmas.

I've written about this kind of ridiculousness before on other forums, mostly in a more outraged fashion, but here I'd like to mention some of the more amusing segments of this years' War that I've spotted so far.

In San Carlos Park, Florida, neighbors are expressing outrage over a Christmas nativity scene, featuring a black baby Jesus, and wise men and shepherds represented by toy monkeys and other animals. The creche was, however, created by the five children of a devout Christian woman who sees no harm in the way the scene is depicted. The neighbors, of course, want her remove it, calling it a "mockery". Silly neighbors.

A Long Island, New York school bus driver was nearly fired for wearing a Santa hat, because one of the kids he drives doesn't believe in Santa. That's right, a parent called the company to complain about a red and white hat. The same red and white hat he's been wearing every winter for the last five years. Silly parents.

In Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a mocking website has appeared to take stabs at the mayor, who earlier this year passed an ordinance that penalizes local businesses for using illegal immigrants. The site, called, claims that as Santa would fall under the legal definition of illegal immigrant, Hazleton doesn't want him there. It is a hoax, but a very clever and funny hoax. Who said the Americans have no sense of sarcasm.

A new report has also been released just in time for this year's battle, which claims that 8 percent of Americans will not shop at a store if it doesn't have Christmas decorations up. It also claims about 40 percent of shoppers "continued to express displeasure at the lack of Christmas decorations in retail stores..." and that many shoppers will actively decide not to shop at that store again if there was no or little decorations. So Santa hat school bus driver bad; tree in store good.

In Colorado, a woman is facing being fined $25 a day for hanging a wreath in the shape of a peace sign on the front door of her own property. Apparently neighbors are happier to misinterpret the peace sign as a 'Satanic symbol celebrating the defeat of Christ'. Obviously, that's exactly how the Prince of Peace would have interpreted it as well.

No matter which side of the war you fight for, you probably won't win. Americans just want to punish you somehow, and if it doesn't involve losing your job, it may very well be Mariah Carey's version of All I Want For Christmas being blasted at you in the store for the 100th time. But let's face it, when you discover that even Richard Dawkins celebrates Christmas, it's probably more fun to sit back, grab some nog and watch the hilarity ensue from afar, safe in the knowledge that no one is targeting you this year, and praying for the day when there'll be a ceasefire.

Monday, December 11, 2006

'No One Shot by Cheney' Now Valid Headline

Seriously. What has this country come to when the Vice-President of the United States makes headlines by not shooting anybody?

Article even helps us all out by listing who doesn't get shot by Dick Cheney.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Not shot by Cheney.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
Not shot by Cheney.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford
Not shot by Cheney.

Luckily, 10 months ago, Texas lawyer Harry Whittington was shot by Dick Cheney. Otherwise, James Rosen, the author of the article, would had reeeeaaalll trouble trying to fill those extra eight paragraphs, wouldn't he?

At Last A Reason to Support McDonalds

But why did it have to come from the American Decency Association?

December 7, 2006 - McDonalds: a repeat advertiser on VS "Fashion" Show

McDonald's must hear from us! A company that generates millions of dollars from families through Happy Meals sponsors the destructive pornography of Victoria's Secret.


McDonalds Corporation
Andrew McKenna Sr. - President
McDonalds Plaza
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Phone: 630-623-3000
Toll-free: 800-244-6227
Fax: 630-623-5004

Sample letter: Millions of Christian people like me spend money minute by minute in McDonald restaurants every day. You are dirtying our airwaves and thereby our children and families when you carelessly and insensitively sponsor Victoria's Secret "Fashion" Show.

You were the only fast food restaurant to attach your name to this lust-fest. You advertised on this show in 2005 as well.

Here is what you helped bring into millions of households Tuesday night, December 5.

The women used their bodies to lure and entice while the camera focused in on barely covered crotches and breasts, mostly bare bottoms, and cleavage. And while the women seductively paraded across stage, men's reactions were shown from the audience.

Do you want my business? Advertising on Victoria's Secret "Fashion" Show is not the way to earn it and keep it.

In closing, I say shame on you, McDonald's. You have not conducted yourself with excellence.


Luckily, according to the site, if you don't want to buy products to piss off the ADA, you have a choice of these fine corporations: Dell computers, Circuit City, Vaseline and Sunsilk hair products (Unilever). Yay!

Get your pork sausages just in time for Hannukah

Williams Sonoma, in their infinite wisdom, have been selling holiday gift treats, including Ham and Pork based products, such as:

Fra'Mani Pork Sausages

Internet/Catalog Only

Inspired by memories of the delicious cured meats his Italian grandfather prepared for his Chicago delicatessen, chef Paul Bertolli brings a rare zeal to handcrafting authentic salumi – salted and cured meats or sausages in the Italian style. The former Chez Panisse chef and award-winning cookbook author follows pastoral traditions learned from artisan producers in Italy. Made from the finest-quality naturally raised pork and free of fillers, Bertolli’s fresh coarse-ground sausage coils lend superb flavor to Italian specialties. Each coil is enclosed in natural hog casings, tied with twine and accented with fresh bay leaves. Shipped fresh, the sausage will keep for one week refrigerated, unopened. 2-lb., 2-oz. coil (serves six).

  • To ensure freshness, perishable items are shipped overnight from the supplier. These items are not eligible for Rush Delivery. Orders will be delivered within one week.

  • For Hannukah Delivery please order by Sunday, December 10th at Noon PST.

  • This item cannot be gift wrapped.

  • Notice that second bullet point above. What the hell would anyone celebrating Hannukah want with a bunch of linked pork sausages? I mean, according to Jewish observance, you're not even allowed to touch them...

    Silly Williams Sonoma. Stick to over-priced serving tongs. No split pea and ham soup for you.

    Missed Connections - Brooklyn Style

    There's a kind of classified ad that's becoming more popular these days, called Missed Connections. Usually you write one of these for someone you bumped into on the subway, or helped down the stairs - your eyes met and there may have been attraction, but you had to go your separate ways.

    Only in Brooklyn could someone write a missed connection for someone who helped them in a bakery after throwing up. This country does amuse me so.

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Apparently there was no cheese in sight

    Yep. In true New York Post style, someone offers the US a way to get out of the hellhole that Iraq has become since the invasion, and hey, classy paper that it is, it calls them Surrender Monkeys.

    Smart, NYP.

    Very. Smart.

    Long Distance Information, Give Me Uckfield, East Sussex

    Okay, so this didn't happen in the US of A, but it's still a great story and ties in with something that happened to me recently when I was in the US of A.

    So I'm at work, and I get this email from my boss's crackberry:

    Hey Rid - it's Trip. I'm using Jerry's Blackberry. Mine's not working. We're near Picadilly[sic]. I know it's touristy around here but is there a decent low-key place to get a pint and some food around here?

    So I figure he wants somewhere fairly cheap and out of the way to drink and eat. Bear in mind it's about 6.30pm GMT, and he's in one of the most "touristy" parts of London.

    Of course, the expensive, non-low-key, touristy thing is the reason why I know nothing of pubs by Piccadilly. I've been to a mega-pub there, with a massive tree in it (actually it's Waxy O'Connors), but it's so cavernous that if you head off to the toilet, you'll need a roll of string and a trail of breadcrumbs to find where you left your friend. If you ever find your friend. But that's it. My extent of drinking in the West End starts and ends around Leicester Square, or maybe a few jaunts to Covent Garden. But now they closed down the Intrepid Fox, there's really not much point.

    So I decided to hit google with this phrase: Piccadilly Pubs. Up pops this link for a site called Beer In The Evening, which not only provided pictures, but reviews, and a little map of where it was.

    So here's the reply:

    If you haven't found a place yet, The Goat Tavern, on Stafford Street has recommended food and good beer selection. From Piccadilly Circus, walk on the left side of Piccadilly towards Hyde Park Corner. Make a right on Albemarle Street, and it should be across the road on your right on Stafford St, btwn Staff and Old Bond St. Wish I could join you. R.

    Within ten minutes I get this:

    We found it. Thanks for the tip.

    I mean, seriously. If you stop to think about it, how bloody cool is that? This guy is 3,000 miles from me, and without even picking up a phone, I can direct him not to the nearest pub, but to one with food, and with a high customer recommendation. I'm like his own personal Zagat's. 10 years ago, this sort of thing was a pipe-dream. 20 years ago, it was the kind of thing you saw on the Max Headroom sci-fi series.

    Needless to say, however, that my boss is now glad he didn't do the same thing when he went to Singapore earlier this month, as I probably wouldn't have been so gracious. Not sure what google comes up with if you type in Blue Oyster Bar Singapore.

    And I don't want to find out.

    However, all of this pales in comparison with this story, where a climber, stranded on Table Mountain in South Africa, called his granddad on a cellphone in Uckfield, and got the old guy to go online and look up the number for a local mountain rescue station.

    The internet may be for porn, but it could actually save lives. Oh, get you a pint of Bombardier in a foreign country, too.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Won't someone think of the cats?

    Seriously. When America's War on Drugs begins to extend to Catnip, it's time to pull the plug on funding this bunch of government lackwits...

    However, I have seen cats get wicked crazy on 'nip', they snort it, or lick it, and freak out a bit, then lie on their backs and get all docile and wide-eyed. If only we had something like that for kids on planes.

    Here, look kitty! Here's a picture of a green bag! You'd like that, wouldn'tcha!

    Yeah. Cats are weird.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Coventry Unusual Suspects Reunion - 2006

    So I'm actually on holiday in the UK right now. Last weekend, went up to the midlands, Coventry to be precise, to catch up with old friends. Little did I know, I was in for a bit of a surprise. Old housemate Fluffy came all the way from Kent to come visit, and it all turned into a bit of a reunion...

    DAY ONE: Friday at the Whitefriars

    When asked about what it was like living in our old house, Fluffy denies everything...

    Dudge spins Broomie a yarn, while Fergie and Copie look on. And, yes, it appears Copie has stolen both mine and Fluffy's hair.

    Ben reacts appropriately to the situation.

    Me and Paul catch up with Mark 'Khorne' Buttree, who I haven't seen in about 10 years.

    DAY TWO: Watching Rugby at the Aardvark, and then, heck why not, back to the Whitefriars...

    Fluffy has been stung by a wasp. On the ring finger. He has a very big (wedding) ring and can't get the damned thing off. At this point, the hospital has given him drugs to reduce the swelling, which means he can't drink, but the drugs aren't working, so he's wrapped the thing in ice in case that works instead. Here he is resting his head on the thing, desperately hoping that holding his hand up will help some.

    Fluffy anoints my head with melting wasp-sting ice. I feel positively saved from the threat of wasp-stings.

    Broomie and Marty-T commiserate after watching England lose again.

    After finally giving up and heading to the hospital to get his ring cut off, Fluffy joins us back at the Whitefriars later in the evening decrying 'I don't care if the drugs make me fall asleep in five minutes, I'm having a bloody beer.'

    Not content with just being old housemates, me and Fluffy discover we were separated at birth.

    Seriously. It's quite scary.

    Hankering for a little slice of home, I decided to buy two bags of Roast Chicken crisps. Half way through the first one, everyone complains that 'it really smells', so I have to wait until Sunday morning before I'm allowed to eat the second one.
    And so the reunion went. Day Three was spent at Broomie's writing a new song for Earth Calling Angela, but like an idiot, I forgot to take pictures of this momentous occasion. So I'd like to thank everyone who came out for our two days of catching up, debaucherous nostalgia trips, and general silliness. Meant a lot to me, it did.

    Tailgating at the Eagles

    Okay, so I'm a Giants fan. But I'm not so crazy as to turn down the chance to tailgate at the Eagles if a friend from LA flies over for his birthday. Here's some piccies for those interested.

    Drunken Trivial Pursuit the night before.

    Too much DDR!

    KPK waits impatiently for her 9.30 mimosa.

    Mini barbecue put together, not with tools, but by HUMAN HANDS...

    The crew finally gets the mimosas in. Paca, KPK, Buni & Dyl.

    Paca throws a perfect ball...

    Dyl catches like a typical Seahawks fan...

    And, yes, I was actually there.

    Wicked day all round, apart from me still being a little weak from 2 weeks of allergy recovery. Cheers everyone!

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    I didn't get a Pahrump outta you!

    Something tells me this is going to repealed before St. Paddy's Day...

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Squersheys - Not Just For Dogs Anymore

    And I thought Hershey's chocolate just tasted like shit...

    Salmonella fears prompt Hershey recall

    Associated Press

    A variety of Hershey chocolate products and candies in Canada were voluntarily recalled Sunday because of fears of salmonella contamination at a factory.

    There have been no reported illnesses associated with the products, Hershey said in a statement.

    Hershey brand chocolate bars, chocolate chips, Oh Henry! bars, Reese's peanut butter cups, and Cherry Blossom sweets were among the affected products.

    None of the recalled products were produced for Halloween or Christmas.

    Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials said they were told by Hershey that it doesn't appear there was a widespread delivery of the affected products to stores.

    It was unclear where in Canada the affected products may have ended up and it was not immediately known how long that will take to find out, said Marie-Andree Lefebvre, a CFIA spokeswoman. The recall did not affect Hershey products sold in the United States, the CFIA said.

    The recall involves chocolate produced at the Smiths Falls, Ontario, factory between Oct. 15 and Nov. 10, Lefebvre said.

    The recalled chocolate and candy can be identified by date codes found on the back of each package - the affected date codes range from 6417 to 6455.

    Consumers should check codes on chocolate bars they purchase as not every product on store shelves are affected.

    "For example it's not all the Oh Henry! bars that are affected by this recall," Lefebvre said.

    Hershey officials did not immediately return telephone calls Sunday.

    Production at the plant in Smiths Falls was shut down last week, and the company did not say when it will resume.

    The Hershey Co., based in Hershey, Pa., is the largest candy maker in the U.S.

    Salmonella generally cause a nonfatal, diarrhea-causing illness. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever and headache. There are about 2,500 types of salmonella.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Tech Spam

    So I get a lot of spam emails. A lot. So much I wrote an IDM/Techno album inspired by the weirdness that appears in Spam mails. They have titles like 'atomic' and are filled with deliberate spling mistakes and e x t e n d e d c h a r a c t e r s to try to loop around spam filters. Sometimes you get a bunch of randomly generated words. Sometimes there's a section from a novel in there. I call it machine poetry. One day I'd love to organize it and make a book out of it.

    But this latest one is just plain weird. And very long. Looks like it's straight out of a technical manual for something. I'll strip the dangerous-sounding web address, but everything else gets left in. If anyone can translate this for me, you get a prize.

    Sandra has uploaded some new software for you!

    View your available uploaded software from Sandra @

    install (whether or not you actually use it as the installa-
    an insecure function written by Nate Williams; in subsequent releases
    the scsiformat shell script from FreeBSD 2.2). FreeBSD 2.2 and later:
    can be picked up with a recursive diff for later feeding to patch.
    pieces of the FreeBSD operating system, they are notorious for not
    52:(kgdb) print tp
    leftmost column, and subsequent lines are indented with a single TAB.
    At this point you should reboot your system with your new kernel.
    Technical discussions
    direct access to a printer, you should use the spooler anyway since
    rattan|line|diablo|lp|Diablo 630 Line Printer:\
    /usr/var 0 50 75 0 50 60
    Please note that the stable tree endevors, above all, to be fully
    If your port requires significant user interaction/customization to
    memory parity logic, making it almost impossible to detect when a
    FreeBSD's default kernels usually come with two SLIP interfaces
    If you don't have a CDROM, or you want to make sure you get the very
    narrow) and many hundreds of bug fixes.
    to VT100/102. It works well on some laptops which have hardware
    The simple spooler configuration consists of the following steps:
    them for the file you need. Here is an example of a list of files that
    2nd kelly 10 (standard input) 1635 bytes
    This means that you should look for some entries that start with wcd0
    Please make any checks payable to FreeBSD, Inc., sent in care of the
    configuration in /sys/i386/boot/netboot/Makefile. See the comments at
    have all your devices. The easiest way to check is to reboot your
    o PLIST - a list of all the files that will be created when the
    for them.
    outer cylinders of the drive there is more space so more sectors per
    /MAKEDEV sd0
    loaded at all. Update the boot blocks, the recent ones do load the
    (e.g., `Makefile'), set ${DIST_SUBDIR} to the name of the port
    echo Dialing.
    # make
    Architecture and design discussions
    know how to use it, but what if you cannot recall the command name?
    subscribe []
    each drive has its own direct connection to the controller.
    noipdefault # remote PPP server must supply your IP address.
    Current Kerberos master key version is 1.
    device sio2 at isa? port "IO_COM3" tty irq 5 vector siointr
    administrative one; it does not mean the person concerned is
    Previous or default values are in [brackets] ,
    devices, 16550A-based serial interface cards are much prefered. If
    inexpensive commodity PC hardware is also its liability when it comes
    INQUIRY command is sent by the kernel on boot to see what kind of
    FIFO timer has expired (stale data), or
    the kernel decide what to do next. RUN_DEPENDS
    supposed to send +12 VDC or -12 VDC, and the receiver is supposed to
    for the quota files, this is not recommended since all of the various
    based PC's, ranging from 386sx to Pentium class machines (though the
    When you are using the parallel interface, you can choose whether
    you look at existing examples before starting. Consider the following
    o Make a ``restore file(s)'' option to CTM, something like:
    are identical in performance. There are differences, and in some
    controller scbus0 at ahc0
    Note that when you create /etc/sliphome/slip.login and
    cases, you should at least be able to make a port, so do not let the Tagged command queueing
    mailqueue whenever I have the PPP link up, by typing
    communication parameters with the fs, fc, xs, and xc capabilities;
    generally the default for Sun workstations), you will need to set this
    transfers, but when the DMA transfer counter reaches zero, the
    go a long way! Donations of hardware are also very important to
    Ghostscript and using a special text filter for your printer, you can
    in the word. (This requirement was set in the days of mechanical
    To enable the emulator, add the following to your configuration file
    nel as described in the ``kernel configuration'' section.
    file. Users can print jobs with lpr -#5 (for example) and get five
    removed by LPD, particularly if there have been errors during
    outside the i386 directory is common to all platforms which FreeBSD
    sliplogin usually logs good informational messages via the daemon
    [janegrunt 10543] cat ~/.klogin
    Wangtek and Archive QIC-02/QIC-36 tape drive support
    IRQ line. You should use whichever one works.
    currentFreeBSD> and the FreeBSD CVS commit message mailing
    These permissions allow the user uucp and users in the group dialer to
    /usr/share/examples/sup/cvs-supfile. If you would rather track
    endeavor to replace such software with submissions under the more
    prior to any device probing. Hence you are able to even debug the
    This is the easiest kind of change to make as it does not involve any
    mileage may vary. Slippery when wet. Beware of dog.
    that this supports one-way communication only (FreeBSD to printer); Compiling ports from the Internet
    National Semiconductor has made available a program named COMTEST that
    compile their own ports from source.
    /etc/syslog.conf to see to which files syslogd is logging).
    later, several megabytes of physical memory will be wasted.
    Traditionally, a Baud Rate represents the number of bits that are
    A minimum of four megabytes of RAM is required to run FreeBSD. To run
    SCSI is an acronym for Small Computer Systems Interface. It is an
    name of the dependency is put in to the package so that pkg_add will
    SLIP support is rather primitive, and limited primarily to hard-wired
    2.2. Preparing for the installation
    with a completely new and rather incomplete set of 4.4 Lite bits. The
    the two modems listed above that have internal UARTs were caused by
    you have general FTP access to the Internet then the following FTP
    grunt# kstash
    as an example of how a machine may be made aware of multiple realms.
    Sony SDT-5000
    time available for the task. Amanda solves this problem. Amanda can
    pid=`ps ax |grep pppd |grep -v grep|awk '{print $1;}'`
    want to experiment with it.
    sio14 at 0x168-0x16f flags 0x1005 on isa
    c/o Jordan Hubbard
    we connect to. This type of route is normally used for local
    configuration file. The "archive set" also contains nightly

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    The Dangers of Watching TV

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. A six-year-old boy may have been trying to imitate wrestling moves when he hanged himself from a doorknob.

    This is a real AP story, as recounted on a Tennessee TV station's website. WTVF Newschannel 5 calls itself a News And Information Leader. Yet they somehow didn't stop to think about this first sentence of the re-posted article. Exactly which freaking wrestling moves involve a belt and doorknob?

    As much as I love those kinds of promos for evening news that are the TV equivalent of a 10 second terrorist act ("Could breathing air be killing your kids? More at 11"), this kind of journalism ("Could muscular men pretending to fight each other kill your kids? More at 11") is nothing more than mentally stunted and lazy. Sure, kids watch TV and play out what they watch, but, you know, accidents happen. This strange need not just to find a reason or cause for a death, but to be able to apportion blame and then to attack the fingered cause or reason is becoming a pandemic in US society. It's so unnecessary, ultimately unsatisfying, and never really solves anything, other than some small-minded desire for vengeance or some twisted concept of justice.

    Take another story here in New York. After one, maybe more incidents where kids have been killed or injured playing baseball, New York City Councillors are being asked to legislate against aluminum baseball bats being used for sports in NYC public schools. That's right, because, you know life is dangerous, and sport is part of life, so obviously, when someone gets hurt playing a sport that uses equipment, and that piece of equipment doesn't actually cause the damage, we need to create and enforce a whole set of new laws in order to protect our children from these scary devices. Let's just get this straight, kids aren't being killed by getting hit with the bat, they're getting killed by getting hit with the ball.

    So, of course, we outlaw the bat, despite there being no evidence whatsover that these metal bats are any more dangerous than wooden bats, other than being able to hit a ball harder and faster, but unlike, say, a bullet from a gun, this effect of being hit by a ball flying off an aluminum bat isn't constant. It might kill you, it might just leave a bruise. If one is to outlaw a particular tool, for any reason, one needs to prove a consistent causality. A bullet to the head consistently kills or maims, a baseball doesn't.

    Ergo, thus and therefore: Aluminum bats aren't dangerous, but being in the ball's way can be. Even with a wooden bat, if you get hit full-force in the temple or the solar-plexus, you may die. Accidents happen. We don't need to blame or outlaw anything. We need to come to terms with it as a fact of life.

    Revenge of the MILFs

    Once again women of America are about to be subjected to an onslaught of 'what men think you should be'. This time, in a new Unreality TV show, called Hottest Mom in America, contestants are lining up, babies cradled in their arms, to be judged as worthy of appearing on TV based on looks, and, no doubt, social incompatability with other contestants.

    Now I like looking at women just as much as the next guy. Heck, maybe even more than the next guy, but this seems like such an arbitrary competition. I mean, let's face it. You don't need a reality show to pick who you think is the most attractive woman out of a crowd and say "YOU! YOU ARE THE HOTTEST MOM IN AMERICA!" but apparently the producers of this show seem to think that WE THE PEOPLE should choose over a long period of time, who is hotter this week than they were last week. Then, of course, if the show's a success, there'll be another series, debunking the theory that the woman who wins this contest is actually the Hottest Mom in America by picking someone totally different. Much like the Greatest Rock Songs in the World... Ever CD was followed by the Greatest Rock Songs in the World... Ever 2, which, if my song was on the second disc, would piss me off. I mean, how come I never made it onto the first disc? Not great enough for you, you pathetic wankers!

    But I digress. Mothers across America are lining up for this competition in order to appear on TV, and win a prize, but they're being duped. Essentially, this whole thing is a ruse to find the "Face of Restylane", a new Botox-like "Dermal Filler" which is injected into the face. All entrants must agree to participate not just in the TV competition, but also in the Face of Restylane competition. The winner of the TV competition gets $25,000 college scholarship for one child, $25,000 in cold hard cash AND one year's free treatment of Restylane.

    In other words, even America's Hottest Mom is not hot enough for America. She must inject her face with hyaluronic acid in order to feel good about herself. Now, if the woman vote the hottest mom in America needs to be injected with 'dermal fillers' after she wins the competition, what does that say to all the women at home watching the show?

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Vote for the new Seven Wonders of the World

    Here's the 21 finalists from, picked from over 200 possible sites worldwide. Go there to see the potential wonders in the swimsuit and eveningwear rounds, and laugh at the stupid interviews the Easter Island Statues give. "We want world peace... yeah. World peace and the destruction of all enemies of Easter Island."

    1 Acropolis, Athens, Greece

    2 Alhambra, Granada, Spain

    3 Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia

    4 Chichen Itza Aztec site, Yucatan, Mexico

    5 Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    6 Colosseum, Rome

    7 Easter Island Statues, Chile

    8 Eiffel Tower, Paris

    9 Great Wall, China

    10 Hagia Sophia church, Istanbul, Turkey

    11 Kyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan

    12 Kremlin/St.Basil's, Moscow

    13 Machu Picchu, Peru

    14 Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany

    15 Petra ancient city, Jordan

    16 Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

    17 Statue of Liberty, New York

    18 Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom

    19 Sydney Opera House, Australia

    20 Taj Mahal, Agra, India

    21 Timbuktu city, Mali

    US full of Internet addicts: study

    Of course, I can take it or leave it. So long as I have my PS2. Of course, that would assume that the five computers I have in my house became TVs so I can play Madden in the basement (Madden 06 arriving on Friday! Excited!) while Buni watches Gray's Anatomy in the family room.

    Wait. Who am I fecking kidding. I'm a professional intranet content manager. If it weren't for the internet, I'd be out of a job. So yeah, it's not really addiction, it's homework.



    The dog ate it.


    Somebody PLEEEEZE Buy K-Fed's CD

    According Kevin Federline, after the extraordinary non-success of his first single, Popozao, he decided that the album he had recorded no longer fit the kind of music he wanted to make. So he went back into the studio and re-recorded the entire thing from scratch. No biggy. I've done it myself. But I have a suspicious feeling that EVERYONE around him realized that no one was ever going to buy it. Luckily for K-Fed, someone gave him a second chance. Chances are, that was his missus, bankrolling him so he can get something released.

    Now she's practically begging for people, not just to buy his new CD, but to SELL IT. The fan who helps sell the most CDs gets to go to Brit and Kev's Halloween launch party. Sounds great, an inbred spasmodic white-boy rapper and his pregnant wife hold court while other people party.

    The second prize, however, is a thing to behold. The sneakers Kev wore at the Teen Choice Awards. I could put those on Ebay, and see how much people would pay me to burn them. Or, you know, I could give them to charity and let some homeless guy walk a mile in K-Fed's shoes. Yeah, maybe I'd do that. It's much more like the American Way.

    On a more serious note, I was listening to something on NPR the other day about cotton and developing countries, and how charities handing out free clothing to the poor is actually harming clothing industries in developing worlds because we're removing people's need to buy from local manufacturers. Where's that article... Ah, Bingo! Of course, it's not the only factor, but it's worth a long thought, IMO.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    When Life Hands You Lemons...

    Make Lemonade.

    When life hands you limes...

    Get the salt baby, it's Tequila Time!!!


    Friday night!


    Join me down the pub, kids, it's happy dance time.

    Meanwhile Back At The Whitehouse...

    President George W. Bush delivers remarks regarding the economy in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006. "This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th," said the President. "These numbers show that the budget deficit has been reduced to $248 billion and is down to just 1.9 percent of the economy. As a percentage of the economy, the deficit is now lower than it has been for 18 out of the last 25 years."  White House photo by Paul Morse THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Good afternoon. Thanks for coming to the White House.

    In 2004, I made a promise to the American people, we would cut the federal budget deficit in half over five years. Today I'm pleased to report that we have achieved this goal, and we've done it three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.)

    This morning my administration released the budget numbers for fiscal 2006. These budget numbers are not just estimates; these are the actual results for the fiscal year that ended February the 30th.* [sic]

    And this is the point where you have to kinda stop and ask for a rewind.

    Did he just say February 30th?

    Well yes, and I love how the's staff actually caught that and added the little [sic] and an asterisk pointing to a footnote that reads: "September 30th".

    These poor guys at, who have to transcibe, verbatim, the drivel that pours from Our Glorious Leader's head. I pity the fools.

    Like Anyone Would Have Noticed Anyway

    Behold the face of evil. Well, an artists' rendition of it, anyways. This is the guy who planned to blow up the Prudential Building in Newark, NJ, and caused untold strife by forcing cops to relinquish their daily routine of shooting gangbangers and crack addicts and protect one single building for a month and a half.

    Unfortunately, the Pru tower wasn't the only building he had plans for. One of the buildings he had a full blueprint for on his laptop when caught in Pakistan was the Citigroup Center in mid-town Manhattan; the building which, up until a month ago, I used to work in. So I'm quite happy he decided to plead guilty yesterday at Woolwich Crown Court, actually, as I'd prefer not to be blown up or even targeted, truth be told.

    Demonstrators Gone Wild

    Somewhere in this photo is a blond woman protesting about not being able to walk topless in Florida.

    Her manner of protest? Taking her top off. She was promptly arrested.

    However, a new Seventh Circuit Appeals court ruling has upheld an earlier decision that she can be topless, as long as it's "part of a legitimate political protest".

    So, she can't actually legally be topless. But she can protest against not being able to be legally topless, by being legally topless.

    Now I know this is Florida, and let's face it, nothing makes sense in Florida. In fact, Florida is like a dark state made entirely of anti-logic... a living Edward Lear poem... a... I mean, it's just Florida, for Pete's sake. But seriously, this is the kind of twisted logic Kirk used to blow up Vulcan heads.

    And it seems to be an expanding mindset here in America. If there's no rule for something, make a rule. If that rule doesn't work for everybody, make another rule as an exception to the previous rule. Whatever you do, don't either fix the first rule, or, Lord forebid, get rid of it entirely. After all, what kind of Land Of The Free would this be without rules on top of rules on top of rules that we all have to follow anyways?

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    California Grape Growers: All They Ever Do Is Wine, Wine, Wine

    Thanks to the popularity of the movie Sideways, in which the main wine-connoisseur character, Miles, screams "I'm NOT drinking any FUCKING MERLOT!", merlot sales have, like, totally slumped, dude.

    Which is a shame, because a good merlot can be a great wine, even to have around the house. And, those of us who understood the movie know that Miles' hatred of merlot is simple: People like his actor best friend, Jack, would drink it happily without a thought. Plus, his hatred of merlot ties into his hatred of all wines other than Pinot Noir. Why? Because he is Pinot Noir. When he says:

    "It's a hard grape to grow, as you know. Right? It's uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it's neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and... ancient on the planet."

    We all know he's talking about himself. He's explaining himself to Maya, and why he's such a psychological mess, needing someone who is "the most patient and nurturing of growers" to "coax" him into his "fullest expression".

    Shame such a smart allegory would threaten to ruin the livelihoods of merlot growers in Wine Country. They deserve something better than that.

    Even if a good percentage of what they produce is "Quaffable... but far from transcendent."

    The Soundtrack To Your Life

    A game apparently. Here are the rules:

    If your life was a movie (and you weren't the director), what would the soundtrack be?

    So, here's how it works:

    1. Open your music player with full library (iTunes, Win amp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
    2. Put it on shuffle
    3. Press play
    4. For every scene listed, type the song that's playing
    5. When you go to a new scene, press the next button

    So here goes.

    Opening Credits: Golddigger (Diplo Mix) - Kanye West
    Waking Up: California Uber Alles - The Delgados
    First Day At School: Genius - Pichshifter
    Falling In Love: Refugees - Funker Vogt
    Fight Song: Going Slow - Tin Star
    Paranoid: I Can't Breathe - Gary Numan
    Life's OK: Edge Of No Control Part 1 - Meat Beat Manifesto
    Mental Breakdown: Microsize Boy (Darkmonki Remix) - Tweaker
    Driving: Herd Killing - The Future Sound Of London
    Flashback: Wavy Line - Meat Beat Manifesto
    Getting Back Together: Catatonia - Mulder & Scully
    Wedding: Patricide - Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
    Birth of Child: Midway - Harmstation
    Final Battle: I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
    Death Scene: offEND - Front 242
    Funeral Song: The Wheat - Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard
    Ending Credits: The End Starts Today - Bis

    Wow. Like that's either extremely prescient or utterly ironic...

    Charlotte Church

    Not sure why, probably because I've been in the US for 8 years and haven't had to deal with the media frenzy over her, but I have a confession to make.

    I fancy Charlotte Church.

    Why? Who the hell knows. She's boorish, dresses like a chav, and has a bad Welsh accent. Not a sexy Welsh accent - a bad Welsh accent. And she sings the kind of songs that make me want to slash tricycle tires.

    But she so freaking gorgeous I want to slap her.


    Ho hum. With any luck, she'll turn into my last obession: Lindsay Lohan. Plucked from the depths of Disney obscurity into a drunken nightmare of bulemia and boyfriend fights. Then I won't care anymore, and can go back to trawling Brooklyn looking for both Michelle Williams AND her husband Heath Ledger...

    Psycho Killer, Qu'est Que C'est?

    So, there's a movie out now called Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. A prequel, I would imagine. As the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is supposed to be based on true events, and there's no real record of anything happening vis-a-vis Leatherface and the gang before that event one can only assume that this movie covers the events of the five teenagers driving from Mexico to a Lynard Skynard concert prior to their meeting with a disturbed hitchhiker who subsequently shoots herself. It should really be like a road movie. But, as everyone knows, shit don't work out that way when there's money involved.

    Ho hum. Yet another monster movie, then...

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Lost at Weddings?

    No article for this one. It's just a personal story. If you're ever at a wedding or a party, where you only know the person who invited you and they're busy mingling with all the people they know, and you're just standing in the corner like a proverbial wallflower...

    Put you Gaydar and find the gay couple.

    Trust me, you'll have a great time.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Britney Spears - Sleep With Me, I'm Not Too Young

    Oh, the joys of discovering new cool websites! This site has clips from songs that you can hear forward, and backward, to find the 'hidden message'. Stairway To Heaven is there, Hotel California, Another One Bites The Dust, and best of all - Hit Me Baby One More Time. Yes, Britney Spears supposedly has a hidden message in her first single: Sleep with me, I'm not too young.

    Funny - I thought the message was pretty blatant in the video.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    The Best Fantasy League Ever

    It's a fantasy celebrity gossip league game.


    It takes five tabloid magazines and you pick eight celebs, and then you get points for how much, and what kind of, coverage the celebs get in the tabloids.

    It's so effing kitschy, I just had to join...

    APP.COM - Playtime on peaceful grounds | Asbury Park Press Online

    Something in this article disturbs me. Not sure if it's the fact that kids are becoming less able to play without adult 'coaching', or if it's the fact that this school is bending over to accomodate this phenomena. Either way, there's a ton of political correctness involved here which I think has a chance of doing more harm to a child's development and socialisation than good.

    There's been many a rant against schools that play competitive sports but with no goal, no end result, no winners or losers - in order to build self-esteem. I'm going to try not to join in the chant here but it's going to be hard.

    An educator for 29 years — the last nine at Wolf Hill — she wanted to bring play back. Principal Renee Bonin — a classroom teacher for many years — signed on, and "peaceful play" recently was introduced at Wolf Hill School, the borough's elementary school.

    "We know so much about learning," Bonin said. "There is academic and social learning. In order to rise to the top, you have to be socially and emotionally adept," and interacting on the playground helps teach those lessons.

    This is all well and good, but I'm not sure what the long-term effects of creating a structured, heavily supervised, utopian environment during recess could be. Essentially, the teachers and aides are forcing children to play by the rules set for them, limiting a child's imagination. Whereas once upon a time, a child would invent their own games, in their own time, here we see adults wishing to micro-manage what a child can play, in order to make things more 'fair' and 'safe'. In what part of adult life are things fair? In what part of being a grown up are you really safe? When finally let go to find their place in the world, how are these kids going to react?

    People can learn through structured activity and self-actualisation, but, you know, we also learn from our mistakes. The school of hard knocks gets a bad rap, but it has one hell of a track record. Maybe we, as adults, need to remember that sometimes before we deny entry to that school for the next generation.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    NewsChannel – Nashville, Tennessee - School Board Meets About Possible Bible Class

    I'm trying to stay away from religious issues on this blog. There's just too many cackling lackwits over here to keep up with.

    However, this story could not be overlooked, thanks to one line which, if it's not a typo, perfectly describes how religious asshats really think (emphasis mine, the article doesn't seem to notice this one):

    "The Bible was the first textbook in our educational system, and so to really be well rounded, well balanced, and well education, you need to know about the Bible," Redmon said.

    Seems like Mr. Redmon could do with reading some textbooks other than the Bible. May I suggest The American Heritage Book of English Usage: A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English, perhaps?

    Go Wildcats! - Deadspin

    You know, everyone's been passing this one round because, well, there's a guy with his hand down his pants.

    My question is how is the vampire in the middle of the picture able to stay out in sunlight?


    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    My Belief-O-Matic Results

    I'm not much of a church-going person, to be honest, but, according to the Belief-o-matic, if I were, I should be a Unitarian. Here are my results...

    1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
    2. Liberal Quakers (95%)
    3. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (92%)
    4. Neo-Pagan (80%)
    5. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (74%)
    6. New Age (74%)
    7. New Thought (74%)
    8. Secular Humanism (73%)
    9. Scientology (59%)
    10. Mahayana Buddhism (55%)
    11. Baha'i Faith (55%)
    12. Taoism (53%)
    13. Reform Judaism (50%)
    14. Theravada Buddhism (48%)
    15. Nontheist (44%)
    16. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (42%)
    17. Orthodox Quaker (37%)
    18. Jehovah's Witness (36%)
    19. Hinduism (35%)
    20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (28%)
    21. Sikhism (25%)
    22. Jainism (23%)
    23. Orthodox Judaism (16%)
    24. Seventh Day Adventist (14%)
    25. Eastern Orthodox (10%)
    26. Islam (10%)
    27. Roman Catholic (10%)

    High court rejects sex-toy case - U.S. Life -

    Texas, Georgia and Mississippi all have laws banning manufacture, marketing or dissemination of an “obscene device” including those shaped like sex organs.

    Personal massagers? Banned.
    Vaccum cleaners? Banned.
    Oysters? Banned.
    Bananas? Banned! Banned! Banned!

    High court rejects sex-toy case - U.S. Life -

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    This planet is crazy: US library ban on JK Rowling - most wanted

    More from Banned Books Week:

    Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has been voted the author Americans most want to ban from libraries over fears that her books promote witchcraft.

    The American Library Association (ALA), who compiled the list for their Banned Book Week, said there were more than 3,000 attempts to remove the books from libraries and schools between 2000 and 2005.

    The ALA said some of the main reasons cited for protesters trying to get controversial books removed from circulation were sexually explicit material, having an occult theme or offensive language.

    Other complaints highlighted books with violent content or promoting homosexuality or a religious viewpoint.

    Other authors on the list include John Steinbeck, for racism, violent language and sexism in Of Mice and Men, Harper Lee for To Kill a Mocking-Bird and William Golding for Lord of the Flies.

    Rowling said: "As this puts me in the company of Harper Lee, Mark Twain, JD Salinger, William Golding, John Steinbeck and other writers I revere, I take my annual inclusion on the list as a great honour."

    An ALA spokesman said: "Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to express one's opinion, even if it is considered unorthodox or unpopular and it stresses the importance of ensuring others have access to those viewpoints."

    Houston Community Newspapers Online - Parent criticizes book 'Fahrenheit 451'

    In other news from the World of Irony: Parent requests Soylent Green to be printed in blood on human skin, and all copies of 1984 should come with a free web-cam, and DNA testing kit...

    A Caney Creek High School dad is fired up because the Conroe Independent School District uses the book "Fahrenheit 451" as classroom reading material.

    Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.

    "The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

    Alton Verm filed a "Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials" Thursday with the district regarding "Fahrenheit 451," written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.

    "It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read "Fahrenheit 451." "The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class."

    He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, "dirty talk," references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against their religions beliefs. The Verms go to Grand Parkway Church in Porter.

    "We went them to go after God," said Glen Jalowy Jr., Grand Parkway Church youth minister. "We encourage them that what you put in your mind and heart is what comes out."

    Alton Verm said he doesn't understand how the district can punish students for using bad language, yet require them to read a book with bad language as part of a class.

    Diana Verm and another classmate decided to read an alternative book. They leave the classroom when the class reads or discusses "Fahrenheit 451," she said. The two students were given "Ella Minnow Pea" by Mark Dunn because it shares common themes with "Fahrenheit 451," said Chris Hines, CISD assistant superintendent for secondary education.

    "Fahrenheit 451" is a science fiction piece that poses a warning to society about the preservation and passing on of knowledge as well as asks the question about whether the government should do the thinking for the people, Hines stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Other themes include conformity vs. individuality, freedom of speech and the consequences of losing it, the importance of remembering and understanding history and technology as help to humans and as hindrances to humans, Hines stated in the e-mail.

    "They're not reading books just to read them," Hines said in a telephone interview. "They're reading it for a purpose. ... We respect people's rights to express their concerns and we have a policy in place to handle that."

    A selection process is used for materials other than textbooks, according to district policy. The materials must meet various standards, be appropriate for the subject, age and social and emotional development of the students and motivate students to examine their own attitudes and behavior, according to district policy.

    While the district does not know of any other challenges to "Fahrenheit 451," there may have been students who have decided to read a different book. The district estimates about 1 percent of students request to read a different book than assigned, according to the e-mail. "Fahrenheit 451" has been used in CISD curriculum for at least 19 years and "likely prior to that," Hines said in the e-mail.

    The district hasn't received challenges on any other books in the four years he's been with the district, Hines said.

    A district student, employee or resident can challenge any educational material in CISD on the basis or appropriateness, according to CISD EFA (local) policy. An informal reconsideration is first attempted. Informal requests are not documented, so Hines said he did not know how many requests were handled informally.

    The person can make a formal challenge, which Alton Verm did. A committee will be appointed to review the material, discuss the material and report findings about the request to the principal, parent and superintendent, Hines said. The process takes about two weeks.

    The Montgomery, New Caney, Splendora and Willis school districts have similar policies.

    NCISD banned "Draw Me a Star" by Eric Carle and "Absolute Power" by David Baldacci, but it has not received a book challenge in three years, Cindee Reynolds, NCISD superintendent/community relations executive assistant, stated in an e-mail to The Courier. Montgomery ISD received one request from a parent to review instructional material, but the district has not banned any books, Babette Eikenberg, Montgomery ISD human resources executive director, stated in an e-mail to The Courier.

    Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request to ban "Fahrenheit 451," a book about book burning, during Banned Books Weeks is a coincidence.

    "Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read" is observed during the last week of September each year, according to the American Library Association Web site, The week celebrates the freedom to choose or express one's opinion, even if it might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them, according to the Web site.

    Jerilynn Williams, Montgomery County Memorial Library System director, said Banned Books Week keeps the public aware that it is imperative to have access to information in a democratic society. Banning books causes libraries to limit access to information by withholding a person's right to explore a wide variety of opinions to form their own opinions, Williams said.

    "Not every book is appropriate for every person, but every person should have their work that they choose," Williams said. "The public library is for everyone."

    The Montgomery County Memorial Library System has received 65 requests to challenge books since 2002, Williams said. The library has removed "Castro," for factual inaccuracies, and "Tomorrow Wendy," because it was not under the library's current guidelines, Williams said. The library also has a process for people to follow if they challenge a book, Williams said.

    However, Williams said a public library is different than a school library.

    "As a public library, we are the library for everyone," Williams said. "The school library is meant to be the library for that select group at that school."

    To view a school district's policy on book selection or how to challenge a book, visit the individual district's Web site.

    Kassia Micek can be reached at

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    LA Weekly - ¡Viva Border Volleyball!

    This is freaking awesome.

    When the Texas one goes up, can we go Paintballing in it?

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - 3:00 pm

    California’s most desolate and unknown beach is desolate and unknown for a reason. It has no name, no facilities, no parking lot. There are no signs for it inside Borderfield State Park. There are no signs for the park either. To get there, you depart the 5 freeway 10 miles south of San Diego, follow the roads to where the gas stations give way to horse stables, get lost in the overgrowth and streams of the Tijuana River delta, and from there walk the dirt road two miles through coastal dunes to emerge at the Pacific.

    This is a filthy beach, where the Tijuana River deposits human waste, heavy metals, toxic poisons and other industrial effluvia from Mexico into the ocean. “CONTAMINATED WATER; DEEP HOLES; RIPTIDES; NO LIFEGUARD; NO SWIMMING!” the signs announce.

    No switching sides allowed
    This is also a geopolitically divided beach, purposefully hidden, a DMZ in miniature where the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol would prefer no distractions as they monitor the fence of metal pylons that draws a 20-foot-tall line in the sand all the way into the sea.

    It is the perfect beach, in other words, for the world’s first game of international border volleyball.

    This is the idea, at least, as I trek to the beach with no name to meet Brent Hoff and three other collaborators who plan to stage the match. There, under the noon sun, are a lone umbrella, some towels, lots of water and a brand-new volleyball. Hoff is the editor of Wholphin, a new DVD magazine published by McSweeney’s. For the DVD’s menu, Hoff wants to film a game of beach volleyball using the border fence as the net.

    Through the pylons we can see hundreds of people — families, kids, ice-cream vendors and fishermen — all hanging out on Mexico’s side. The fence itself has kind of a beach vibe here: It’s broken in parts, and Mexican nationals wander back and forth, left alone by the border-patrol units perched up on the hill unless they happen to wander a bit too far.

    “Why not use this no-man’s land as a real beach,” Hoff adds, now spinning the volleyball in preparation, “and see if we could strike up a friendly pickup game? There’s no law against that.”

    Or is there? Hoff suddenly wonders if hitting the ball back and forth constitutes a violation of U.S. Customs law, since goods are technically being transported across an international border. “Does a nice volley amount to three strikes? Can we all get thrown in the slammer?” One friend of Brent’s refused to come down because he thought we’d all get shot.

    We decide to take our chances. Here we are, under the perfect sun of San Diego, where beach volleyball reigns, so why should that be any different just a few miles south?

    With Hoff’s three collaborators filming, he needs a second, and so I am volunteered to be the other half of Team USA. By chance, we are both wearing white tank tops, beaded necklaces and swim trunks — just the right uniforms for Team USA to show everybody who’s boss. (U-S-A! U-S-A!) Hoff’s shades are yellow and mirrored for a nice finishing touch. We approach the fence. Within seconds Team Mexico is formed, and the match begins.

    Beach volleyball is a much different game when played over two-story metal pylons. Strategy and nuance go out the window. There are few sets and certainly no spikes. Mostly, it’s tit-for-tat power bumps that send the ball in 30- and 40- and even 50-foot arcs. The ball hangs in the air so long that a lot of time is spent looking skyward, bracing for another bump that hopefully goes in the right direction. Waiting for one good knock to fall from the blue, it occurs to me that our entirely new sport makes for some extreme, if inadvertent, political theater. Despite the difficulty, the game is fun — and surprisingly uninteresting to the border patrol, who zipped down at the drop of a hat several times earlier but now seem content to observe us with binoculars.

    Spectators line up on the other side too. Beachgoers watch the game, and a bunch of kids doing a college art project film us as well. We learn that our opponents are two guys named Jerry and Larry. Jerry grew up in El Monte. He’s in Mexico because he “made mistakes in his life” — I notice a big “EMF” for the El Monte Flores gang on his arm. But now, he says, he’s on the right path. Larry is a student with long, rocker hair; he’s wearing a black shirt and jeans.

    Although we’re not really playing for points, it’s clear we’re losing. Hoff makes heroic dives, and I’m (sort of) pulling my weight in the volleys that develop, but Jerry and Larry have strength and stamina, despite the fact that Jerry is older and wider than me and Hoff combined, and Larry looks like he should be melting.

    After an hour or so, we call it quits. Our wrists are red and raw as we go to the fence to shake hands. A crowd gathers for this moment of cultural exchange, which turns into a photo opportunity. Like China’s pandas, Hoff and I are goodwill ambassadors. See how furry and friendly we really are? We’re not all saber rattlers up here! We take pictures with Jerry and Larry, with the art-school kids, with some tourists from Canada who are marveling at the whole thing.

    All this activity finally brings down the hammer of the border patrol, and a jeep shows up to separate us. The officer is friendly but firm. He’s just come on shift and has no idea we’ve been playing volleyball over the fence for the past hour.


    He tells us that a daredevil launched himself across the border in a cannon a while back, but that ours was, in fact, the first-ever game of international border volleyball.

    “And it worked over that tall fence?”

    “Yup,” we say. “We’re up for one more round if you want to play.”

    “No, man,” the officer says. “I’m on duty.”

    Junk Food Blog: Jimmy Dean Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick

    There's something inherently wrong about this product. American's are weird, anyway, mixing sweet and savoury with abandon; but this... This... Just look at it carefully...

    Mystery meat surrounded by CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKE.


    It's actually making me hungry.

    Now I'm craving battered sausage. :: Bar fight at the Irma roils Cody

    The reaction of the tourists here is almost as amusing as the name of the reporter...

    CODY - It's usually the mock Old West gunfight outside the Irma Hotel that has tourists talking, but an old-fashioned barroom brawl late Monday night captivated at least one out-of-town couple.

    "A couple came up to me after it was all over and shook my hand and said, 'We're from South Carolina, and we just want to thank you, that was the best bar fight and greatest entertainment we've ever had,' " said Scott Richard of Cody.

    Richard said he was present for the melee, and at times became sucked into the fracas. In a town known for rowdy saloon brawls, Richard said he heard the fight described as the biggest in 15 years.

    Details of the incident are sketchy. Police declined to release names or other information, citing an ongoing investigation and possible charges. Some were briefly hospitalized following the fight, which ended around 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, according to eyewitnesses.

    Kelly Jensen, administrative services director for the city of Cody, said she was unaware of the extent of any injuries.

    According to Richard, the fight broke out shortly after midnight in the Irma's Silver Saddle bar.

    "Somebody in the bar, as a joke, yelled, 'Last call for alcohol,' " said Richard. A drink then got sloshed onto the ceiling, where it dripped onto an individual who took umbrage with the turn of events, he said.

    "This skinny guy stands up and starts lipping off," Richard said.

    Amid an attempted apology, someone else threw a punch, and Richard said he stepped in to try to break things up but was also hit.

    "And then all hell broke lose," he said.

    According to eyewitness Jasper Nielson of Cody, the bar was particularly busy, with a number of hunters and outfitters present.

    A large group was also in the bar celebrating a birthday, he said.

    As many as a dozen people were fighting at one time, with three or four separate incidents dying down and starting again over at least a 20-minute period, Nielson said.

    The fight was at times bloody and brutal, and it continued outside on the hotel porch, where a window was spattered with dried blood Thursday.

    "It looked like a grenade went off," Nielson said of the scene afterward.

    Although bartenders tried to intervene - including one who suffered a dislocated elbow and severe bruises - the fighting continued.

    Police were delayed in responding because the two officers on duty were tied up at a previous call, where a reportedly violent suspect was barricaded in a bedroom.

    Jensen said 911 dispatchers received an initial call about the Irma incident at 12:25 a.m. An off-duty police officer and a Park County Sheriff's deputy arrived at the scene by 12:41 a.m.

    Some at the scene questioned that timeline, estimating a 30-minute delay, but said they were unsure when hotel staff first called police.

    Officers reported learning that seven individuals were involved in the altercation, Jensen said. Nielsen estimated at least a dozen people were fighting at once.

    A number of glasses and bottles were broken, according to eyewitnesses, and hotel maintenance worker K.C. Forsyth said a chair and table were broken. "That's never happened before," he said.

    Officers solve overcrowding puzzle - at Krispy Kreme: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

    As if they didn't spend all their time there anyways...

    Ex-doughnut shop answers sticky question

    By Erika Pesantes
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    Posted September 30 2006
    Boynton Beach· Mayor Jerry Taylor admits the place he's found to house police officers, who work out of the congested police headquarters, will elicit chuckles.

    But good-humored police are ready to brace themselves for the batch of jokes. In fact, bring them on, they say.

    Taylor says the former Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop on Boynton Beach Boulevard just west of Interstate 95 could be perfect for a police substation. He will propose leasing space that would relieve the cramped police station during Tuesday's commission meeting.

    "There's really no room to turn around. People work in the type of environment you put them in," Taylor said of the current 18,354-square-foot location. "It's not conducive to good performance if you cram people like sardines."

    The Krispy Kreme site is spacious and has plenty of parking, he said. The doughnut shop, which opened in August 2003, flopped and now remains vacant and up for lease.

    At the police station attached to City Hall, fingerprinting must be done in hallways that are crowded with filing cabinets and other office supplies.

    Recently, a team of 18 traffic unit officers worked out of a 400-square-foot room with moldy carpets. They moved out, but 12 officers and sergeants from the Community Action Team are due to move in.

    They currently work in a 150-square-foot space.

    "It's not pleasant to come to work and walk through a maze to get to your office," Maj. Frank Briganti said. "At this point, we're so cramped that anything would be welcomed.

    "After a few months, the doughnut jokes will wear off and we'll be happy to occupy the Krispy Kreme place."

    A 2003 study found the Police Department desperately needed an additional 53,000 square feet of space to work comfortably -- nearly three times the size of the current headquarters.

    Sgt. Philip Hawkins said occupying the site of the former Fire Station 2 would be ideal for police. It just needs to be revamped, he said, adding it has generators and large bay doors.

    "It's got everything," he said.

    Over the past five months, police officers have been shifting around the tight quarters and even overflowed into a classroom at its range at Miner Road and Gateway Boulevard.

    About 200 police officers and clerical employees squeeze into the police headquarters and the 6,981-square-foot range.

    And more employees are soon expected -- five additional police staffers have been budgeted for.

    Taylor said leasing space to alleviate the department would be an interim solution until construction of the 65,000-square-foot police facility at the site of the proposed Emergency Operations Center at Gateway Boulevard and High Ridge Road begins in late 2009.

    For now, police anxiously await relief, despite the jokes that may roll in.

    "It's a bad stigma we're trying to kick," said Sgt. John Bonafair. "But we're willing to work with whatever they give us. If we get the space, we'll take the jokes."

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    What's Your Beer Personality?

    Bugger. I hate these things. I never turn out the way I want to. I should be Stella Artois. Sam Adams is for beer nerds.

    You Are Samuel Adams

    You're fairly easy to please when it comes to beer - as long as it's not too cheap.
    You tend to change favorite beers frequently, and you're the type most likely to take a "beers of the world" tour.
    When you get drunk, you're fearless. You lose all your inhibitions.
    You're just as likely to party with a group of strangers as you are to wake up in a very foreign place.

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Your favourite group/artist and your top 3 songs by them

    Saw this question on forum I frequent. This, I guess, is my answer...

    Today I'm gonna go with Meat Beat Manifesto.

    1. Circles from Satyricon. I first heard this album on an overnight ferry to France to meet up with my then girlfriend for Valentine's Day. It was the beginning of the end of our 2 year relationship, and the lyrics just struck me. "Why do we idolise it, if we can't justify it?" Add to that a cool acid-jazz groove, and these great discordant harmonies, this song seems shorter than it really is (4.15 minutes), but mostly because I want it to last forever.

    2. Now from 99%. I've only recently (like in the last few years) been able to play catch-up with MBM's earlier stuff. Now is the perfect introduction to the band, a funky, jazzy backbeat that could have been the backdrop to an early Public Enemy track. The lyrics are little wanting, and it can be a little jarring to hear a white guy from Swindon rapping, but all the hallmarks that would make this the band that should be much bigger are there.

    3. Acid Again from Actual Sounds & Voices. Where does this opening sample come from? It's brilliant... "Are you unhappy?" "I'm happiest I've ever been. I'm not happy. I'm not happy at all, really. I'm very sad, I'm... I'm not happy. I'm so fat - I don't feel very pretty. I really don't." "You know a lot about drugs?" "Oh, I live for drugs. It's great. Just lately I... freaked out... on acid... I freaked out very, very badly. You know I don't think I'll ever take acid again and before I thought that was the best thing in the world. I never want it again. Never acid again." And a slow burning Moog tune explodes into one of the coolest, aggressive live-drum breakbeats ever recorded. The simple "acid again" sample, along with an extra "I dig that" slides around the groove, giving way only to gloriously psychedelic sitar refrains, 303 knob-tweaking, chunky guitar chords and housey-synth riffs. Once it starts all I want to do is dance my freaking arse off for 7 solid minutes. It's the perfect mixture of everything Acid has come to mean to the British public; pure psychedelic electronica.

    Ahem. Luckily for everyone I have no ambition to a music journalist.


    I love the last line of this story. New York's West Village is one of my favourite places to hang out when in the city. If you get a chance, go to the Four Faced Liar on West 4th Street - cheap beer, fantastic juke-box, and a great mix of people.

    Most of my early West Village experiences involve hanging out with gay friends for some reason. Usually being invited to someone's party and then having the 'friend' who invited me not show up. So there I am, the only straight male at a party filled with some of the most camp gay guys I've ever seen, every single one doing their best to convince me I must be gay, too.

    "Look, you must be gay! Look at your long fingernails! You're drinking gin! You're kissing boys!" Etc...

    Yeah, they'd usually have me convinced by the end of the night. But, cock-tease that I am, I'd always leave 'em hanging.

    Some of the gay bars in the West Village can be a little intimidating if you're straight, though, especially when you have to take a leak - best advice: take a guide with you. Finally - stay alert - that way you're less likely to end up lashed to a railing in a rubber suit like this guy...

    September 28, 2006 -- Only in the West Village, kids . . .

    The body of a man clad in a kinky black leather mask and decked out head to toe in S&M gear was hanging from a chain-link fence on Hudson Street yesterday - as many passers-by ignored it, thinking it was a Halloween display.

    The slightly built, fair-skinned mystery man may have been choked to death by a dog collar around his neck, it's other end strapped around a 3-foot-tall fence post, police sources said.

    The 40ish, tattooed man was found kneeling, braced face-first against the fence in front of 424 Hudson St. at around 6:45 a.m.

    In a bizarre twist, the body had been there for at least an hour, dismissed by some who walked past as a quirky seasonal display in an area scattered with S&M and gay bars.

    "The body was covered with a black suit and he had a mask on his face," said deli owner Indra Patel, who first spotted the strangely posed corpse when he opened next door around 5:30 a.m.

    "I thought it was a dummy. It looked like a dummy, because every year they do decorations like that. I was wondering why they put up the [Halloween] decorations early."

    Patel said at least an hour went by before a woman walking her dog realized the sidewalk exhibit of a man wearing a pair of leather spiked gloves, chaps and a vest was a real person and called police.

    Cops were investigating if the man had committed suicide or died during some sort of bizarre auto-erotic sex game.

    An autopsy will be performed today to determine how the man died. Police sources said there was no sign of a struggle and they don't believe he was a victim of foul play.

    Another witness, Kevin Samuel, 50, a porter for a building across the street, said he had looked at the body several times but it just never clicked that it might be a real person.

    "I'm staring at him and I think, 'Is that a prop or a real person?' His legs looked like he was twisted on an angle and that he fell in it [the fence]. It looked like he was stuck there and couldn't get up, like he lost his balance," Samuel said.

    "He didn't look like a person. I think he had a black mask on; I couldn't see his face.

    "I was looking at him for a while. I've never been stumped before trying to identify people. I'm ashamed of myself in a way because, I didn't realize it was a human being."

    A worker repairing a gas leak at Hudson and Leroy Street said "I thought it was a decoration for Halloween. I thought it was a scarecrow."

    Another passer-by, Ralph Constanza, 31, said, "It looked like he had a bad night, I can tell you that."

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | 09/24/2006 | Local moms compete for 'Hot' title

    I really don't know what to say here, really. Most of it would be smarmy, and filled with 'Jugs of Hot MILF' style punnery. Though I imagine I could throw a little social commentary about how 'Desperate' the networks are to pull a new reality TV show out of a 'Housewives' beauty pageant.

    Not to fear, though. I'm not quite lowering myself to Entertainment Tonight standards... yet.

    A gaggle of gorgeous moms from across South Florida lined up in Miami Beach for a chance at cash prizes, a modeling agency interview and the title of 'Hottest Mom in America.'

    Jacqueline Atwood, 17, from Hobe Sound, keeps her mother, Danielle, 47, company as she waits to audition for 'The Hottest Mom in America', a new reality TV show.
    Jacqueline Atwood, 17, from Hobe Sound, keeps her mother, Danielle, 47, company as she waits to audition for 'The Hottest Mom in America', a new reality TV show.

    At 5 a.m., when many partygoers are going home from clubland, a bunch of fair ladies began lining up Saturday outside an empty Miami Beach theater with no velvet rope and no bouncer.

    Some wore classy, elegant dresses, while others looked set to embrace a brass pole. There were naturally pneumatic stunners and others who obviously had had some, ahem, surgical assistance.

    But they all shared one sultry goal: to become the Hottest Mom in America -- and earn some cash for themselves and their kids.

    There they were: scores of foxy South Florida moms flocked to the Byron Carlyle Theater on 71st Street, happy to spend up to two or three hours waiting in line for their turn to audition for the hot mom contest.

    Mark Hughes, the show's executive producer, said more than 200 women turned out for the auditions. ``We want moms who are not just physically attractive, but confident, energetic, smart and involved with their kids and communities.''

    Everybody, it seems, wants to be sexy from the cradle to the grave these days. Given our national obsession with hotness, it's no surprise that ''reality'' contest shows are so popular.

    ''I think I'm a pretty hot mom, and my son is the world to me,'' said flaxen-haired Yvonne Leibow, a Miami loan officer, communications student and mom of 2-year-old Devin. ``My family supports my being here. They agree that I'm hot.''

    Gawking male motorists agreed, too. Distracted by the bulging cleavage and lithe legs on display, a few rubberneckers nearly crashed into one another.

    Every so often, a crew member with a headset would run up and down the line of contestants, motioning for them to cheer wildly and wave their arms in the air whenever a TV camera ventured close.

    ''I don't know what the heck we're supposed to be cheering for, but here goes,'' said Meisha Robinson, a North Miami single mom and beauty salon manager. 'I'm here mostly just to say, `I did it.' My family can't believe it.''

    Sagine Douge, of Hollywood, said her husband told her she was crazy. ''You're gonna get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday?'' mimicked Douge, who has a 1-year-old son, Jordan.

    To audition, the moms tell a camera why they think they should win and briefly display any showbiz talents, like singing or dancing. The computers take stills of the contestants, which are later displayed on the show's website, hottestmomin

    Through further interviews, the field will be narrowed to 50, then 10, then five, Hughes said. ``Some of the ladies see it as a chance to begin a career in TV, but most are just having fun with it.''

    The winner will get $25,000, plus a $25,000 scholarship for her child or split among her children, an interview with a modeling agency and treatments with Restylane, an injectable antiwrinkle gel, for a year. Auditions are scheduled through October in Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles. TV stations then will bid to air the show once it's done filming, Hughes said.

    Homestead ''hottie'' Stacey Christidis, wearing what looked like a shirt with the bra on the outside, said she would use the prize money to pay medical bills for her daughter Malaina, 6, who has autism.

    ''Motherhood is the hardest job,'' said Christidis, a doting mom who also has a 3-year-old son, Nico.

    "Why not make some money at it?''